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Healthy Ingredient Spotlight: Asparagus

We’re switching things up a bit with our healthy ingredient spotlight. While we love spices and extracts as much as anyone, spring has arrived (fingers crossed), and we’re itching to dig into the season’s fresh produce.

Of the countless delicious and nutritious spring fruits and vegetables we can talk about, asparagus is on the top of our list. Whether it is because of the veggie’s limited availability, tree-like shape or distinctive, earthy flavor, we can’t get enough of it. With breakfast, lunch dinner or a snack, there’s always a place for asparagus (and kefir!).

Healthy Ingredient Spotlight: Asparagus

healthy-ingredient-spotlight-asparagus

Taste and looks aside, asparagus packs a powerful punch of healthy vitamins and minerals. It’s an excellent source of fiber, vitamins A, C, E and K and folate. It’s also a great source of copper, an essential trace mineral that aids in collagen formation, energy production and iron absorption.

Asparagus is also one of the best sources of natural inulin, a type of fiber that is not absorbed in the digestive tract and instead passes through. It is thought to promote healthy gut flora and have probiotic effects (you already know how much we love those). It also contains beneficial polyphenols and antioxidants. In short, it’s a super delicious, super versatile, dare we say it – super food!

While delicious and easy to cook with, choosing and storing asparagus can be a bit tricky. Asparagus loses moisture and structure quickly after picking, so it’s important to make sure when it’s as fresh as possible when you purchase it. You’ll also want to eat it quickly, too (it’s not one of those veggies that should hid in your crisper).

How to Choose Asparagus

Choose stalks that are long, bright green* and firm (nothing mushy or shriveled). The ends of asparagus tend to become thick, white and fibrous when cut, so you’ll know you have fresh stalks when this is minimized.

How to Store Asparagus

Asparagus is best consumed within one or two days of purchase. To store, trim the rough ends off and place upright in a glass jar with about an inch of water. Keep in the refrigerator until ready to use.

How to Cook Asparagus:

Sautéed, grilled, baked or boiled, asparagus can be cooked in a variety of ways. We love it as part of a veggie-loaded pasta dish, baked with eggs and spring greens in a frittata or simply dressed with lemon and Parmesan. It’s earthy crunch is a compliment to any meal.

*Asparagus is most commonly available green, but there are also white and purple varieties. Whichever color you choose, make sure it’s vibrant and strong!

Sources:
http://slism.com/diet/inulin-fiber-and-prebiotics-foods.html
http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/288165.php
http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=12